EuroLeague Final 1989: Nobody counted on Kukoc, Radja and company

por Roberto Anidos publicado en 1989 Decade 80 EuroLeague Jugoplastika Maccabi Tel Aviv

The preliminary round of the Round of 16 went according to normal parameters and there was no surprise. So the best fourteen teams in Europe moved on to the next phase after passing the preliminary round of matches

In the Round of 16
Scavolini Pesaro eliminated Partizani
Maccabi Elite eliminated Oostende
Split Jugoplastika eliminated Ovarense
The Aris of Thessaloniki eliminated Sodertalje
Barcelona eliminated KTP
Limoges eliminated Brno
CSKA Moscow eliminated BK Balkan
Den Bosch eliminated Saturn Koln after earlier victory over Asker BC

The Maccabi continued another year showing a great level of play, we must remember that it comes from losing the last two European Cup finals, to finish top of the regular league. The Barcelona that the previous year was on the verge of the final, this time was a solid and always with options to opt for the first place. The third and fourth place were again the Aris of Thessaloniki and again a young Balkan team, but this time would be a Split Jugoplastika that years later would become a legend forever. Limoges, Scavolini or CSKA never had a real chance of reaching the final four.

1. MACCABI ELITE   (12-2)
2. BARCELONA   (11-3)
4. ARIS SALONICA   (8-6)
5. LIMOGES   (6-8)
6. SCAVOLINI   (5-9)
7. CSKA MOSCU   (4-10)
8. DEN BOSCH   (2-12) 

The four final was held in Munich, where the Maccabi and Aris repeated last year and the system of crosses forced them to face in the semifinals. But before the Barcelona that was absolute favourite to the title had to beat Split’s Jugoplastika. The Croatians had never reached this stage of the season and seemed to be an easy prey despite the quality of their players. Fat error because the Balkan led by two basketball geniuses like Kukoc and Radja, well seconded by a lethal Ivanovic, dominated the semifinal from start to finish. The very clutched Barcelona saw how it became from hunter to prey (87-77).

*Pavicevic – 9p, 1a.
*Ivanovic – 21p, 3a.
*Kukoc – 24p, 5r.
*Radja – 18p, 11r.
*Sobin – 4p, 8r.
Sretenovic – 5p, 2a.
Perasovic – 4p, 1br.
Tabak – 2p, 2r.
Cizmic – 0p.
Buric – 0p.
FC Barcelona
*Solozabal – 7p, 2a.
*Epi – 16p, 3r.
*Sibilio – 15p, 3r.
*Jimenez – 14p, 6r.
*Norris – 15p, 8r.
Crespo – 5p.
Costa – 5p, 2br.
Waiters – 0p, 4r.
Abad – 0p, 1r.
Soler – 0p.
In the other semi-final, Maccabi did honor their favoritism and won by a clear (99-86) to play their third consecutive final. In a match with many points and a lot of pace, the equality lasted until it held the gasoline to Yannakis, Subotic and Gallis. The Israelites led by Barlow and Magee on the inside and Jamchy on the outside were clearly superior.
Maccabi Electra

*Lippin – 2p, 1a.
*Jamchy – 28p, 1r.
*Mercer – 5p, 6r.
*Barlow – 20p, 8r.
*Magee – 29p, 11r.
Daniel – 8p, 3r.
Sims – 7p, 2r.
Katz – 0p.
Cohen – 0p, 3r.
Gordon – 0p.
Aris BSA

*Yannakis – 25p, 3a.
*Gallis – 21p, 4a.
*Katsoulis – 4p, 3r.
*Subotic – 22p, 6r.
*Wiltjer – 12p, 12r.
Lipiridis – 2p, 2r.
Romanidis – 0p.
Filipou – 0p.
Dokakis – 0p.

First European Cup for the group of young talents that form the Jugoplastika. The final involved a confrontation between two totally different styles of play: European basketball in its purest form against American Power of Maccabi. During the match, the most unbalanced players were Ivanović (for Jugoplastika) and Jamchy (for Maccabi); but while the first one was dedicated to directing the game of his team with mastery, the second one threw until a boot that reached his hands, so Magee, Barlow and Mercer did not wear out the trio formed by Sobin, Rađa and Kukoč. Playing with a poise and serenity unbecoming of their age, the young Yugoslav talents achieved a great triumph that would mark the beginning of a glorious era for Balkan basketball and would involve the international launch of players such as Kukoč, Rađa, Sobin and Perasović.

The predictions before the final gave Maccabi as favourite, both for the fact of having four North American players (Barlow, Magee, Mercer and Sims, although the latter two were Israeli nationals) and for being their third consecutive final (with which it is supposed that the Maccabees would face this match with the lesson well learned). For that reason, nobody gave greater importance to the first serious advantage that took the Jugoplastika after a triple of Kukoč (14-8, min. 5). When Zvi Sherf decided to give entry to Sims to accelerate the match, the Israeli team was ahead on the scoreboard (23-29, min. 14). Although Kukoč was not shining as on other occasions, because of the great marking that was the object of Barlow, the great «covered» of the final, Dino Rađa, began to pull the cart for the Jugoplastika and was responsible for canceling the predictable superiority of Maccabi under the hoops. At rest, the swords were at the top (35-35).

The second half continued in the same vein of equality, despite an attempt by Maccabi to escape (55-61, min. 32) which was cancelled after triples from Sretenović and Kukoč (62-61). The match seemed to be doomed to an end of heart attack, although with five minutes left the Yugoslavs managed a small advantage (69-64) that they would no longer let escape, thanks to a temperance and cold blood improper players of their age. Just over a minute to the conclusion, Rađa -the best player of the match- certified the victory of the Jugoplastika with a mate full of rage (75-66).

*Pavicevic – 4p, 1r, 1br.
*Ivanovic – 12p, 2a, 2br.
*Kukoc – 18p, 3a, 3t.
*Radja – 20p, 10r, 2a.
*Sobin – 11p, 6r, 2a.
Sretenovic – 7p, 1r, 1a.
Perasovic – 1p, 2br.
Tabak – 2p, 3r.
Maccabi Electra

*Lippin – 2p, 1br.
*Jamchy – 25p.
*Mercer – 10p, 7r, 2br.
*Barlow – 13p, 6r, 1t.
*Magee – 10p, 11r, 1t.
Sims – 9p, 4br, 1r.
Daniel – 0p.
Cohen – 0p.